Gar Forman has admittedly read the reports about the building friction between backcourt mates Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose.
The Bulls general manager, however, did his best sell-job that it didn’t exist. At least not in his world.
“We talk to Jimmy all the time,’’ Forman said on Thursday, following the drafting of Bobby Portis with the 22nd pick of the first round. “Jimmy has been in the building. There’s no reason at all that their games shouldn’t fit together perfectly.
“I read about the friction. I haven’t seen it. In all our minds, you’ve got two guys who can attack, want to run, can play off the dribble and play-make for themselves and others. They haven’t had a chance to do it a whole lot because of the injuries. But there’s no reason those two shouldn’t be able to play at a high level and be one of the best backcourts in the league.’’
Actually, there are several reasons.
A league source again acknowledged that one of the issues that has left Butler willing to play hardball with the Bulls in his push to hit the free-agent market sooner than later was because he’s turned off with the idea that it’s “Derrick Rose’s team.’’
Not that the old coaching regime didn’t see this coming, as the feeling back in training camp was that Rose and Butler were two alpha males that would have a hard time existing and could be headed for a collision of egos.
That relationship didn’t exactly improve as the season went on, either, as Butler took notice of the special treatment Rose, as well as Joakim Noah, received from the team’s director of sports performance, Jen Swanson. In Butler’s mind, while he and the likes of veterans Pau Gasol and Mike Dunleavy were busting it every day they could in practice, Rose and Noah had permission to sit out practices and certain drills under Swanson’s care.
By the postseason, the collision of egos was on display for all to see, especially in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal loss to Cleveland, in which Rose seemed to be agitated with Butler’s shot selection, almost shutting down in the second half of that loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
So few are surprised that Butler is now doing all he can to draw a short-term deal as a restricted free agent so that he can hit the market unrestricted as quickly as possible.
“Our goal all along obviously is to have Jimmy here long-term,’’ Forman said. “We feel real confident in our situation how well he fits and that Jimmy is comfortable in Chicago. Our goal will be on July 1 to sit down with him and hopefully come to a deal in a timely fashion. We’ll sit down and talk about what he’s looking for and what we’re looking, and hopefully find something that’s beneficial for both sides. Obviously, Jimmy is a huge, huge part of what we’re doing. We’ll do everything we can and anticipate him being in Chicago.’’
First-year coach Fred Hoiberg will take it a step further, doing everything he can to make Butler feel comfortable playing alongside Rose.
“I think they complement each other beautifully,’’ Hoiberg said of the duo. “I’m looking forward to trying to put those guys in great spots where they can continue be All-Star caliber players.’’